New AFDA Durban Dean brings it back home

Brent Quinn, multi-award winning writer/director and creative producer is the new Dean of AFDA Durban campus.

This ex-Durban boy is thrilled to be back on the East Coast. Says Quinn: ‘Kwa-Zulu is for me South Africa’s most interesting context for story and idea creation. Local screens and stages are hungry for novelty and Durban is alive with contrast, contradiction and such utterly fascinating, and often polar opposite lives. Our diversity is the best muti for really world-class ideas and new ways of navigating this ever-changing world’.

On AFDA students: ‘AFDA Durban students are already making waves: the music performers, stage actors and film-makers from here have often outperformed those from our bigger campuses. Last year, a third year AFDA Durban graduation film, Homeless, directed by Nathan Rice was selected to represent South Africa at the student Oscars. Not bad for a campus only in its fifth year.’ says Quinn.

On the staff at AFDA Durban, Quinn adds: ‘Thankfully I have brilliant and talented staff across all disciplines and I will ensure, given my standing in the industry, that more top talents move here. In addition, lots of top production companies are well aware of the unique filming options here. Durban is more than just beautiful East Coast Africa – culturally and visually we reflect global diversity. I was just in Morocco where the film Black Hawk Down was shot because Somalia was a no go zone. When I think of what films or series can be filmed in Durban – well its simple – stories from the North, the South, the East and the West.’

On how to lead a campus, Quinn adds: ‘For me it is an honour to nurture young talent and help build commercially competitive, creative entrepreneurs. That is what AFDA is all about – empowering brilliant ideas that intrigue and entertain. The focus is always on the student. As teachers we are not here to inspire our students, we are here to make them inspired by themselves – inspired and empowered to dig deep and create excellence. Our Bachelor of Commerce, our Bachelor of Computer Technology, our Live Performance and Motion Picture degrees teach the same thing – commercial success via creativity and thinking out of the box.’

Quinn has 30 plus years creating engaging story. He head wrote the local television hit Intersexions a show on South African sexuality. He executive produced the hit supernatural thriller on a young scientist/sangoma’s twasa in the series Ubizo. His international advocacy work, mostly for the UN, UNICEF and other NGOs has garnered numerous International awards. One of these The Three Amigos, an HIV animated series, staring 3 stand-up condoms was awarded a prestigious Peabody Award, Quinn’s second Peabody. The series has been translated into 47 global languages.

On awards Quinn says: ‘ The only thing that really counts is the reward of knowing you’ve got your audience to reflect upon, and hopefully to engage, pressing issues in their own lives – in a way that resists fear and judgement. To be a storyteller, be it on stage, behind the camera, designing an APP or seated at the edit desk, carries massive responsibility. South Africa does not only need talented artists, we need deeply thoughtful, conscious artists who create work that opens minds and challenges audiences. I am a teacher because I believe this is an imperative. I work at AFDA because our applied degrees offer the right balance between theory and practice.’

On his vision for the future of AFDA Durban, Quinn has this to say: ‘I have inherited a small campus with a big mandate. The vision is simple: help build the creative industries in KZN. Obviously I walk in the footsteps of fabulous talents, already doing massively exciting work here. Art is a collective effort and I wish to work in sync with those making a difference. When our province’s emerging talent start making a noise, and create waves locally and internationally, then and only then can I say I am doing my job. To be blunt, a teacher only really succeeds when the stent shines.

On how we judge success and how we determine if a student is prepared for the world of work, Quinn responds with more excitement: ‘Great question, we do not produce graduates who leave AFDA looking for work. We produce graduates ready to employ others because, when they leave AFDA, they already know how to create work.’

On the age-old question about study and job security, Quinn, never short of things to say, responded this: ‘The old ways are vanishing and job security is a myth. At AFDA we embrace the unknown, we embrace disruption and we embrace all innovation. This generation has grown with digital 21st Century thinking - where the old generation see confusion and fear, the youth see opportunity. They will create the skills they need and will create the future they want to inherit. Out job is to facilitate and facilitate. To the young person (and their parents) one of the biggest certainties is that in the future, people will want to consume more media, be entertained more and will want novel experiences via digital technology. If I had to lay a bet on what the most secure profession was: I would pity the lawyer or accountant not the person qualified here – at AFDA.’

For further information please visit the AFDA website:

2a Highdale Road, Glen Anil 4051, Durban South Africa
PO Box 22049, Glenashley 4022
Tel +27 31 569 2252 | Fax +27 31 569 2317 |

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